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Music professor strengthens Georgia Southern’s international links

Professor Michael Braz has provided a vital part of Georgia Southern University’s music curriculum for 20 years. For year 21 he decided to try a change of scenery, and so far, he reports, it’s been great. He spent the fall semester teaching a variety of music classes at one of Georgia Southern University’s partner schools, St. Benedict’s Catholic School and Performing Arts College in Derby, England.

‘I met students from St. Benedict’s when they came to the U.S. last summer, and I was very impressed, so it was an easy decision to choose the school for the first part of my sabbatical year,” said Braz.

‘Braz spent three months at St. Benedict’s, a school that emphasizes the performing arts across the curriculum, but especially in the sixth form, which is similar to America’s high school. In addition work in the classroom and occasional recital and concert performances, Braz worked with Marion Chester, musical director for St. Benedict’s, to produce the school’s annual show, ‘Dracula Spectacula,” a musical take-off on the legend of the infamous vampire.

‘The show had music written just for piano, but we wanted to use an orchestra,” said Braz. ‘So I wrote the orchestral parts and played piano for the show, which involved 150 students.”

While he was there, two students from Georgia Southern University visited St. Benedict’s as part of the College Education’s International Studies opportunity. Braz served as the Georgia Southern supervisor and mentor for student teachers Megan McMahon and Katie Jones. Through its College of Education, Georgia Southern is part of the International Learning Community and has developed a partnership with St. Benedict’s School.

‘The people at St. Benedict’s made sure my time was filled,” said Braz. He visited Scotland, London, and many sites near Derby. He even took part in an evening of music at a local pub, joining a local group named ‘Please Yourself” for a half-dozen tunes.

‘The people at St. Benedict’s in Derby couldn’t have been nicer to me,” said Braz, who will continue his sabbatical by traveling to Nepal, where he will spend the next six weeks months teaching piano to young people there.

To hear a BBC Radio Derby interview with Dr. Braz, go to http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/strategic/index.php?s=73

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